The British Humanist Association devotes much of its time to campaigning and lobbying on behalf of the non-religious as well as for freedom of religion, belief, speech, thought, and expression more generally. We work for an open society and a secular state with no religious privilege or discrimination based on religion or belief. We also campaign for a rational approach to public ethical issues in order to contribute to a public life where decisions are made on evidence rather than on the basis of irrational beliefs or religious doctrines. You can help!
We classify our public affairs work as belonging to one of four areas:
- schools and education, including ‘faith’ schools, Religious Education, Science including evolution and creationism, PSHE and sex and relationships education, and collective worship;
- human rights and equality, including the need to defend and strengthen the current legal settlement, work related to the specific rights of freedom of religion or belief, freedom of speech and expression (including issues related to harassment and incitement, free speech on campus, and advertising), children’s rights and socio-economic rights, and issues to do with conscientious objection, marriage laws, chaplaincy/pastoral support, and broadcasting;
- secularism, including the need for constitutional reforms such as disestablishment and removing the bishops from the House of Lords, the relationship between Government and faith communities, national ceremonies such as Remembrance, and public service reform;
- public ethical issues, including assisted dying, abortion and other sexual and reproductive rights, human tissues, organ donation, homeopathy, animal welfare, and the genital mutilation of children.
As well as being able to find out information about the above campaigns, in this area of our site you can also find out about successful campaigns we no longer have to work on, a humanist view of society more generally, and how you can get involved.
Across the UK
As a national organisation, the BHA presents expertly argued views to UK Parliament and the Government: lobbying Parliament, submitting evidence to enquiries, making submissions to Government, responding to consultations, and conducting media campaigns. We have a close working relationship with the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group.
The BHA also works with NGOs from across the European Union. Our Director of Public Affairs and Policy is the Vice President of the European Humanist Federation. We attend the European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Politics (EPPSP). The EPPSP is a forum which defends and promotes Fundamental Rights, with special focus on freedom of religion (including freedom from religion), freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. The BHA is also involved in, and is an administrator for, the Alliance for a Secular Europe. The Alliance is a grouping of organisations seeking to defend progressive laws and causes against reactionary religious influence on political decision-making in Europe and, more generally, to promote secularism in European politics.
Across the globe
We work in close partnership with the International Humanist and Ethical Union – our Chief Executive is also its President, and we hosted the triennial World Humanist Congress in Oxford in 2014. We are the only national humanist or secularist group accredited at the UN Human Rights Council, where we make interventions at each session on global issues of concern.
The basis of action
We campaign on the basis of human rights, including the rights of people with religious beliefs, and a humanist view of society. The law upholds freedom of ‘religion or belief’ and the word ‘belief’ in this legal sense includes non-religious worldviews or lifestances such as Humanism. We stand up for the rights of humanists and everyone who lives their life without religion – and because our campaigns are based on the principles of the ‘open society’ and the secular state, they also serve the interests of others whose rights may be being infringed.
Many of our campaigns are based on Government consultations or Parliamentary initiatives, and we also initiate effective campaigns ourselves. Because our campaigns are – in some ways – in tune with the Government’s own agenda of inclusion and non-discrimination, we can often have a real impact.
Humanism in society
Surveys and polling data indicate that the population of the United Kingdom is increasingly secular, and essentially humanist in its outlook. The remaining privileges and legal exemptions for religion appear ever more anachronistic and unjustifiable.
These campaigns pages have all the news about our current and recent campaigns. They are updated frequently, so bookmark them and keep returning. Also make sure to read about what you can do to help.
Of course, the most effective campaigns combine local action with work at national level. For example, we can produce the arguments against ‘faith’ and sectarian schools and in favour of inclusive schools where children from families of all religions and none are educated together and learn about each other’s beliefs, but groups proposing new schools only consult and listen to the views of local people when making decisions about a new school in their area.
You can also support the BHA by becoming a member. That helps in itself, and you can help even more by supporting our campaigns in the ways suggested above. But campaigns also cost money – quite a lot of money – and we also need financial support. You can make a donation to the BHA.